All but one of the 11 Supreme Court justices backed civil union rights for same-sex couples — one justice abstained because he had previously spoken publicly in favor of same-sex unions when he was attorney general.
The court ruled that the same rights and rules that apply to “stable unions” of heterosexual couples will apply to same-sex couples, including the right to joint declaration of income tax, pension, inheritance and property sharing.
The ruling does not allow same-sex marriage, but gay rights activists hailed it as an important advance for same-sex couples. Previously, decisions related to same-sex unions were left for judges to evaluate on a case-by-case basis.
The Roman Catholic church in Brazil opposed gay civil unions and argued against the decision. Maringa Archbishop Anuar Battisti called the ruling a “frontal assault” on the family. About 140 million of Brazil’s 190 million population are Roman Catholic.